If you have acne-prone skin, you should look for the best salicylic acid face wash to treat your skin condition. Salicylic acid is a type of phenolic acid and is used as a key ingredient in several anti-acne products.
It is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from the willow tree. Since BHAs are oil-soluble, therefore they are able to penetrate your skin without clogging pores. Hence, salicylic acid can easily exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin cells.
Because of its penetrative action, salicylic acid is a perfect candidate for treating all kinds of acne, such as blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, etc.
Anyone can get acne at any age. And that’s why you need a face wash with salicylic acid to deal with this problem. They will remove dirt, pollution, and dead skin cells to give you clearer skin.
Best Salicylic Acid Face Washes & Cleansers Reviewed
To save you hours of research, our team of beauty experts has compiled a list of the best salicylic acid cleansers & face washes that you can buy. Without further ado, let’s take a look into these products:
1. Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Cleanser
Don’t settle for the second-best when you’re dealing with acne breakouts, blemishes, and uneven skin tone. The face cleanser in question is, without a doubt, one of the best products out there.
First off, it features a gentle formula that doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped. It will soothe your skin instead. Often times, it’s seen that face washes with high salicylic content can end up drying out the skin. Thankfully, that won’t be a problem in this case. The formula contains .5% salicylic acid that zaps away dead skin cells without being too drying.
The soap-free formula washes away excess oil and boosts cell turnover. Additionally, it’s infused with glycolic acid and LHA to gently exfoliate your skin.
The product was tested on women and 90% of them reported healthier skin within 4 weeks of regular application. On top of that, it has been tested for allergies and is declared safe to use. It’s the perfect remedy for someone suffering from acne.
2. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash
With 2% salicylic acid, this face wash from La Roche-Posay is formulated to treat mild acne. It is clinically tested and reduces oiliness by up to 47%. The formula also features .05% micro-exfoliating LHA that not only prevents breakouts but also boosts cell regeneration.
The addition of citric acid in the formula balances out oiliness and improves skin texture.
If you want to get rid of those stubborn blackheads and whiteheads, this face wash would be an ideal choice. The cleanser is also effective in diminishing blemishes.
It has an oil-free formula that doesn’t make your skin shinier. As the product also contains menthol, you will have that cooling effect that will make you feel fresh all day long.
The formula is fragrance-free and is tested on sensitive skin. You won’t have to worry about fragrance sensitivity or any sensitivity for that matter since all the ingredients used are mild and safe.
On top of that, it promotes skin regeneration. Use twice a day for best results.
3. LAVO Glycolic Acid Face Wash
When it comes to combating acne, it’s crucial to choose formulas that do not clog pores. Lava Glycolic Acid Face Wash is an ideal choice as it doesn’t contain pore-clogging ingredients. As the name suggests, it uses glycolic acid to slough off dead skin cells and clear the pores.
Aside from that, it contains salicylic acid and lactic acid as well. It’s a perfect treatment for acne and is suitable for men, women, and even kids. For teens who are suffering from acne breakouts for a while now, this is the product you’ve been searching for.
Also, it is a perfect fit for removing makeup without stripping away skin’s natural oils and moisture. The product is rich in antioxidants and helps you maintain healthy-looking skin.
The non-irritating formula ensures that it is safe to use on sensitive skin. Plus, the nutrients present in the face wash will keep your skin young, hydrated, and nourished.
4. Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash
With the goodness of Icelandic kelp, we present you yet another salicylic-based face wash. The Icelandic kelp is a miraculous ingredient that relieves inflammation, redness, and soothes your skin.
The salicylic acid comes straight from willow bark to help you deal with your acne in a better way. There are no toxic ingredients used, so it won’t freak out your skin.
Also, it is formulated with Icelandic glacial waters and other botanical extracts that detoxify your skin and get rid of all the impurities. To give you an idea, Icelandic glacial waters are purest forms of water out there. So no more unpleasant breakouts.
It also contains oats that eliminate excess oil and prevent skin inflammation. Plus, it doesn’t clog pores meaning you don’t have to worry about those annoying zits popping out.
Users reported improved skin texture and even tone after a couple of uses. With a creamy consistency, it will gently remove all the impurities while attacking acne-causing bacteria.
You only need to apply it in small amounts as the lather is rich. A single pack will last you a long time. Most importantly, your skin will stay hydrated for a long time.
5. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Cream Cleanser
This product from Neutrogena is a cult-favorite when it comes to clearing acne. Since Neutrogena is a popular brand and is often recommended by dermatologists, this product is definitely worth a shot. And you won’t be disappointed with the results.
It incorporates micro clear technology that treats acne at the source. The face wash will get rid of dirt & pollution, unclogs pores, and gives you clearer skin. Plus, the oil-free formula gives you a vibrant non-sticky look and delivers residue-free results.
It is specially formulated to cleanse your skin while nourishing and conditioning it at the same time. In short, you can forget about skin irritation, redness, itchiness, etc. as you won’t encounter any such thing so long as you have this product by your side.
For someone who is trying to prevent acne breakouts, this face wash is a go! And it’s a popular drugstore acne wash.
6. Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment
Packed with the goodness of salicylic acid, BHA, and witch hazel, Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment face wash prevents acne breakout and help you get rid of stubborn acne scars.
You will see a noticeable difference from the first use. Witch hazel acts as a mild astringent and relieves inflammation, shrinks pores, and prevents bacteria from entering your skin. At the same time, it will also soothe and calm your skin.
It has an oil-free formula that cleanses and nourishes the face without drying it. The BHA dissolves the oil and penetrates deeper into the skin to treat acne, reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation.
The 2% salicylic acid unclogs pores and regulates abnormal cell shedding. It’s a good choice for normal, oily, and combination skin. The product has been clinically proven in reducing acne marks and revealing smoother skin.
7. LuxeJoie AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
Looking for acne treatment for combination skin? You need LuxeJoie AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. It combines the power of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid to cleanse your skin and give you an even tone.
The jojoba beads exfoliate your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells and moisturizing your skin from within. Also, it helps with spot treatment as well.
This product will help you get rid of acne, blackheads, whiteheads while minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots at the same time.
It’s a mild cleanser and you can use it twice a day without having to worry about dryness and skin irritation. On top of that, you will notice that the skin texture will start to improve after a couple of uses.
Your skin will feel energized with its refreshing formula. It will also prevent future acne breakouts.
8. Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Facial Cleanser
If you want flawless acne-free skin, try out Detoxifying Charcoal Facial Cleanser from Yes To. It is a 97% natural salicylic acid facial cleanser with the goodness of charcoal and tomatoes.
Tomato extracts strengthen your skin. They have antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation and repair the skin from cellular damage. Thanks to its skin-lightening properties, the cleanser will clear blemishes and dark spots as well.
Besides, it doesn’t contain any harmful and toxic ingredients. It also contains charcoal that pulls out dirt, pollution, bacteria, and oil from your skin thus keeping acne at bay. The formula used is silicone-free and paraben-free, so it’s safe for sensitive skin.
For top-notch exfoliation, it has jojoba beads that never disappoint. In short, it will purify your skin while making it soft and smooth. The scent is simply delicious and you’ll love it.
9. Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser
Protect your skin from acne breakouts by switching to Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser. Its gentle exfoliation action heals existing acne and prevents future breakouts. It is specially formulated to unclog pores and remove oil, dirt, etc.
If you’re looking for a face wash for removing makeup, this one right here is a great deal. Plus, it contains two magical ingredients – chamomile and aloe vera. Chamomile soothes your skin and relieves skin irritations.
Aloe vera moisturizes your skin and prevents inflammation. Then there’s salicylic acid to clean your pores and prevent pimples. Thyme has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It protects your skin from bacteria and allergies. And a single bottle will last you at least a couple of months.
The letdown? Well, you won’t get rich foam. Also, the smell is not too good either.
10. Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser
Paula’s Choice acne-clearing face wash is based on salicylic acid that fights acne without drying out your skin. On top of that, it also helps with redness, itchiness, blackheads, and whiteheads. It has a gel-like texture that gently cleanses your skin.
If you’re dealing with dullness and uneven skin tone, this might as well be the product you need. It’s gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin. The face wash removes acne-causing bacteria right on contact while getting rid of dirt and oil at the same time.
And it also helps to reduce the size of your pores. The concentration of salicylic acid is 0.5% which is enough to help you with your skin problems. Aside from reducing acne and redness, it will also firm your skin and make it soft.
It’s pretty much suitable for all skin types from normal to dry, oily, sensitive, and even combination skin.
11. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Facial Cleanser
Here’s yet another face wash from Neutrogena on the list. It contains 2% salicylic acid along with chamomile and aloe vera as key ingredients. Both chamomile and aloe vera prevent skin irritation and condition your skin.
Formulated to reduce acne-induced redness, some users have noticed results from the first wash. It’s an effective treatment for skin dullness as well.
The gentle salicylic acid formula helps you get rid of acne while eliminating dead skin cells and revealing younger-looking skin. It reduces sebum activity and controls excess oil production. As a result, you get acne-free skin.
It also calms your skin and keeps it healthy. The product gets to the source of acne and prevents your skin from further breakouts. The formula is oil-free and soothing. Plus, it doesn’t contain toxic substances, so your skin is safe.
It’s free of sulfates, parabens, and is not tested on animals. Use it twice a day for best results.
12. Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
You’re looking at another effective natural salicylic acid face wash. It has been clinically proven to treat acne by removing dirt, oil, and other impurities. Derived from the bark of willow trees, the 1% salicylic acid controls acne breakouts by penetrating deep into the pores and purifying them.
It also contains beetroot extracts that replenish your skin and keeps it moist. Other than that, beetroot extracts give you a natural glow and are also helpful in treating acne.
Furthermore, there’s primrose oil that helps with redness, wrinkles, fine lines, irritation, and whatnot. And if you have rough skin, it will also help with that. If you like natural products, you should totally go for it.
All in all, you can expect clearer and smoother skin with a radiant glow. It is non-comedogenic, dermatologically tested, and safe to use. On top of that, it provides your skin with essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
13. Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal Exfoliating Acne Cleanser
Replenix acne cleanser comes with 2% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid. If you have oily acne-prone skin, this product will clear your acne within a week. It breaks up dead skin cells and rid your skin of excess oil.
Since it’s an exfoliating acne cleanser, it promotes skin regeneration and you get brighter skin. The product contains green tea extracts that have anti-aging properties. Now, green tea extracts also repair the skin from sun damage. And it is also helpful in relieving inflammation.
The skin-soothing action of this product calms your skin and prevent irritation. You can have your peace of mind knowing that it doesn’t contain sulfates and parabens. Plus, it doesn’t clog pores.
When your skin barrier is weak, chances of skin problems are high. Luckily, this face wash also strengthens the skin barrier. It’s safe to say that this product is a perfect solution for acne-prone skin.
14. Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser
This is an anti-aging face wash for acne-prone skin that helps with tons of skin problems ranging from acne breakouts, fine lines, enlarged pores, wrinkles, dull skin, uneven skin, and whatnot. The cleanser has a soap-free formula that doesn’t irritate your skin.
Along with salicylic acid, it contains amla for purifying your skin. Amla is a skin-brightening agent. Therefore, it helps you with spots, dullness, and uneven tone. It also tightens your skin and makes it soft.
The goodness of Hawaiian green papaya enzymes exfoliate your skin, remove dead skin cells, and lighten your complexion. It also contains sandalwood oil which is antibacterial and helps you with eczema and irritation.
The formula isn’t drying at all. Your skin will lighter and fresher. Plus, the product isn’t tested on animals. What we don’t like about this product is its price. It’s pretty expensive for a face cleanser.
15. Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Oil-Free Facial Cleanser
When it comes to treating acne, never settle for anything but the best. Aveeno clear complexion facial cleanser helps you achieve skin that is free of acne. The formula consists of .5% salicylic acid which is gentle enough for your skin and strong enough to get rid of even the most stubborn form of acne.
Aside from that, it contains soy extracts. Now, soy extracts are highly moisturizing. They restore natural moisture balance, enhances skin clarity, fights premature aging, and soothes your skin.
It comes with a soap-free formula that gently cleanses your face without drying it out. For someone looking to clear out blemishes, acne scars, and more, this salicylic acid facial cleanser would help.
It won’t clog pores. If you suffer from skin redness and irritation, this product is a good choice for you. It doesn’t contain irritants or any harsh ingredients. You can use it every day. If your skin is super sensitive, it can cause some irritation.
16. CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser
The problem with most salicylic acid cleansers is that they can dry out your skin. However, this cleanser from CeraVe has a gentle formula that exfoliates your skin without leaving it dry. It contains essential ceramides that prevent moisture loss.
They are also helpful in repairing the skin from the damage caused by environmental stressors. The product also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and fight premature aging.
Vitamin D promotes cell growth, repairs skin, and protects it from bacteria-induced irritation. The salicylic acid formula eliminates dead skin cells and helps treat several forms of acne. It also softens your skin and makes it supple.
It has a microbead-free formula to prevent skin irritation. On top of that, it’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and free of mechanical exfoliants. All these things make it a great face wash for sensitive skin.
17. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Power-Cream Face Wash
This is the third face wash by Neutrogena on the list and you shouldn’t be surprised. For someone who has a history of acne breakouts and wants to prevent future breakouts, this is the product you should be using.
It treats acne before it emerges. You heard that right! The face wash cleanses your pores and treats acne right at the source. The right amount of salicylic acid in the product exfoliates your skin, eliminate dead cells, and purifies your skin.
It contains cucumber and green tea extracts to help with a variety of skin problems such as redness, irritation, itchiness, and more.
The face wash has a creamy lather. It doesn’t leave a soapy residue and the formula is completely oil-free. Upon regular application, you will notice that the product will reduce the number of blackheads, minimize the appearance of pores, and reveal brighter skin.
Also, it has a lovely scent. And there are no sulfates and parabens in the product.
18. DRMTLGY Dermatologist Recommended Acne Pads
Treating acne with acne pads is a great option if the condition is somewhat severe. The acne pads in question contain 3 active ingredients – salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid.
Salicylic acid is a wonderful peeling agent for treating acne.
All these ingredients work together to give you an acne-free look. They remove dead skin cells, boosts collagen, promotes skin regeneration, and also help with scarring, irritation, signs of aging.
The concentration of salicylic acid is 2%, glycolic and lactic acid is 5% each. Even FDA approves 2% salicylic acid in skincare products for acne treatment.
The pads are suitable for teens as well. Other important ingredients of the product are cucumber, grapefruit peel extract, aloe vera, chamomile. All these ingredients help in soothing your skin.
On top of that, they also relieve other skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, redness, etc. Your skin will feel hydrated, soft, and supple upon application.
19. InstaNatural Acne Face Wash With Salicylic Acid
Finally, an acne wash that you can use almost anywhere on your body. The product consists of mild ingredients that make it suitable for dry, oily, and sensitive skin. With a powerful blend of 2% salicylic acid and natural extracts, InstaNatural acne wash keep acne and other skin problems at bay.
It is the face wash for fading away acne scars and stubborn pimples on your face. The texture is gel-like that effectively washes away excess oil and dirt. Luckily, it will also diminish blemishes and fine lines.
It has salicylic acid, witch hazel, aloe vera, and willow bark extract as the main ingredients. All these ingredients help you give clearer, acne-free skin. Plus, the product is naturally antibacterial. Which means it kills bacteria but doesn’t contain ingredients like triclosan or triclocarban.
No matter where the acne is, the product will get rid of all of them be it on your face, neck, toes, knees, or any other part of your body. The product is made in the USA and it totally natural.
It doesn’t use synthetic dyes, parabens, and mineral oil. And it is not tested on animals.
20. Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Cleanser
Phisoderm anti-blemish gel cleanser is undisputedly one of the best products out there. There are so many things you would like about this cleanser. First off, the 2% salicylic is exactly what your skin needs to get rid of acne breakouts.
Secondly, the formula is soap-free, dye-free, and alcohol-free, so it’s a good choice for you even if you have sensitive skin.
The formula is extremely nourishing that ensures that your skin gets the moisture and hydration it needs to stay healthy. Skin-balancing technology restores the moisture and oil balance.
Got oily skin? Don’t worry! The formula is oil-free and you will get a vibrant oil-free look. On top of that, no harmful chemicals are being used for making this product.
Lastly, it will clear blemishes and acne scars. So, you can expect a clearer, even, and brighter skin tone.
How to Choose the Best Salicylic Acid Face Wash?
There are several factors to take into account when buying salicylic acid-based products. Just because a product contains salicylic acid doesn’t mean you should buy it without thinking it through. Here are a few things that you should look out for before making a purchase:
Salicylic Acid Concentration
The first thing to look out for is the concentration of salicylic acid in the face wash. FDA permits salicylic acid in concentrations of up to 2% in skincare products. Anything more than that can cause your acne to dry out and make the situation even worse for you. As a general rule of thumb, look for the products in concentrations of .5% to 2%.
Check for Ingredients
Another thing to consider is the ingredients used in the product. You should avoid alcohol, parabens, sulfates, etc. at all costs. Also, it would be best to go with products with a soap-free formula. Always prefer the products that contain natural ingredients such as aloe vera, papaya, chamomile, etc. as they calm your skin and prevent irritation.
It’s always important to stick to your budget when buying such products. A single face wash will last you for months. In case you don’t like the product, it becomes easier to ditch the product if it’s not too expensive. At the same time, don’t just go with the cheapest available option as they might contain harsh ingredients. Just look for the ingredients and then decide for yourself.
Top Salicylic Acid Benefits
So, why should you even be using salicylic acid products in the first place? Let’s find out!
- Perfect Skin Exfoliator: You may already know that a lot of skin problems are caused by dead skin cells build-up. Salicylic acid exfoliates your skin and removes dead skin cells, thereby preventing several skin problems. Its deep penetrating action makes it a perfect exfoliator. It unclogs pores, removes excess oil, keeps dirt and bacteria away!
- Fights Acne: Let’s face it – when it comes to fighting acne, the first ingredient that comes to our mind is salicylic acid. And rightly so, salicylic acid cleanses your pores and increases cell turnover. It’s a perfect treatment for blackheads and whiteheads.
- Reduces Sebum Secretion: Another benefit of using salicylic acid is that it reduces sebum secretion in people with acne. Excess sebum production leads to oily skin which, in turn, can cause acne. Therefore, if you’re struggling with oily skin, SA can be very helpful.
- Treats Hyperpigmentation: When used in higher concentrations, salicylic acid can be used to treat hyperpigmentation such as acne scars, melasma, PIH, etc. In fact, it’s one of the most widely used ingredients for chemical peels.
- Astringent: One of the best ways to deal with acne-prone skin is by adding astringents to your skincare routine. SA is a great astringent that cleanses your skin, tightens the pores, and gets rid of excess oil.
Salicylic Acid Side Effects
Now that you know several benefits of using salicylic acid for your skin, it’s time to understand some of the side effects associated with SA. Please note that it is safe to use in most cases and the side effects that we are going to discuss are very rare. Here are some of them:
- Skin Redness
- Skin Peeling
- Burning Sensation
If you’re allergic to salicylic acid, please avoid using SA based products. And if any of the above symptoms occur, it’s advisable that you consult your doctor.
How to Use Salicylic Acid Face Wash?
When using salicylic acid cleansers, wet your face and take a small amount of product. Gently massage it on your face for 15 to 20 seconds. Massage the lather in a circular motion and then rinse thoroughly. After that, pat your face dry and apply the moisturizer immediately to avoid dryness and moisture loss.
There’s no hard and fast rule. You use it like any other face wash. Usually, you will find the instructions on the packaging as well. Make sure to read those instructions and you should be good!
Keep in mind that you don’t want to use it in moderation. Washing your face with SA face wash more than twice a day can irritate your skin. Aside from that, it might leave your skin dry. Therefore, it’s important that you read the instructions carefully.
Can I use salicylic acid face wash every day?
Yes, you can use salicylic acid face wash every day. Regular application will be helpful in getting rid of acne. Be advised not to overuse it. Anything more than twice a day isn’t good.
What percentage of salicylic acid is good for acne?
Look for products with concentrations between 0.5% to 2%. A higher concentration can cause skin irritation, redness, dryness, etc.
Is salicylic acid bad for your skin?
No, salicylic acid is not bad at all. The overuse of it, however, can cause irritation and dryness.
How long does salicylic acid take to work?
You should be able to see the improvements only after a couple of uses. However, it might take up to 12 weeks for you to see the full results.
Can I leave SA overnight?
If you have sensitive skin, you shouldn’t leave salicylic acid on your face for more than 30 seconds. If not, you can use salicylic acid face creams and leave them overnight without any problem.
Can I use a moisturizer after salicylic acid?
Yes, you should use a moisturizer after washing your face. No matter what face wash you use for cleansing your face, moisturizing is a must.
You see, salicylic acid face washes are the holy grail when it comes to treating acne. The products we’ve mentioned above should help you prevent breakouts, deal with whiteheads and blackheads, and give you a healthy skin overall.
Pimples can occur at any age, but now you have the knowledge to deal with them better. Besides, when you use SA based products, you get tons of other skin benefits as well.
If you have acne-prone skin and don’t know what to do, it’s about time you get yourself a salicylic acid cleanser. You will be happy with the results you get.